Considering buying a Rhodes 19?

What’s special about the Rhodes 19? The R19 has flourished for more than 40 years for four reasons; it’s moderately priced, it’s a terrific family boat, and it’s a competitive one-design racer, supported by a strong national class organization. Put them together and you’ll understand why used boats are so hard to find.

How does the Rhodes 19 compare to other popular one-designs? Mass Bay PHRF currently gives the Rhodes 19 a provisional rating of 264 seconds per mile. By comparison, an Etchells rates 129, a J/24 rates 168 with the genoa, and a J/22 rates 177.

How many crew do I need? Class Association rules stipulate that crews must consist of three persons for Class Association events, such as the East Coast Championships and Nationals. For fleet racing, you can race with a crew of two or three . An informal survey, however, would be split, with many believing that in all but heavy air conditions, the Rhodes is a two person boat. The reasoning holds that because you need only two to sail it, there’s no need to carry the extra weight. It boils down to personal preference.

How many Rhodes 19’s have been built? Currently there are approximately 3,200 Rhodes 19’s built. There are large fleets in Marblehead, New Orleans, Chicago, Rockport, Winthrop, Hingham, Eastern Point Gloucester, Newport Rhode Island, Hawaii. The fleet is growing at a rate of about 25 boats per year.

Where can I buy a R19? If you want a new boat, call Dave Whittier at Stuart Marine. He�ll be happy to discuss packages, options and pricing. If you want a used boat, you have lots of resources, starting with the Boats for Sale link on this site, or contacting one of the fleet officers nearest you. Other options include the want ad publications and newspaper classifieds. You might also try Stuart Marine, which in addition to building new boats, also reconditions and sells used O�Days and Stuart’s.

Stuart Marine
P.O. Box 469
38 Gordon Drive
Rockland, ME 04841
207-594-5515

Are all Rhodes 19’s built by the same builder? No. There have been three builders over the years, O’Day, Spindrift and now Stuart Marine. O�Day built the boats from the late 40s through 1981. Spindrift built a few boats in 1982, and then sold the molds to Stuart Marine, who has been building them ever since. See Class History for more information.

What�s the difference between an O�Day and a Stuart? The hull and keel shapes are identical, however, the interior was redesigned. The most obvious changes include no ribs, an additional bulkhead aft of the seats, enclosed compartments under the side decks, molded shelves forward, and a shorter, more forward cuddy, all of which results is a stiffer boat with more cockpit space. The redesign was done by naval architect and Fleet 5 member Jim Taylor (who races an O�Day). See R19 History for more information.

Are the O�Days as fast as the Stuart’s? It depends on who you ask. Certainly newer boats are stiffer than the older ones. However, out of the top 12 finishers in the 1998 Nationals, only one (6th place) was a Stuart.

How much does a Rhodes 19 cost? New Stuart’s go for about $17,000 with a trailer. In contrast, used boats (both O�Day’s and Stuart’s) have sold recently for between $2,500 and $8,000. A new set of sails costs approximately $1,915 for main, jib, and spinnaker. The class strictly limits sail purchases to one new suit of sails per calendar year.

Is the Rhodes expensive to race? No. A new suit of sails costs about $2,100 for main, jib and spinnaker, and the class limits boats to one new suit of sails per calendar year (and very few buy new sails every year).

What is the Rhodes 19 Class Association? Commonly referred to as the �national class�, the Rhodes 19 Class Association exists to promote and develop Rhodes 19 class racing under uniform rules, and to maintain the one-design nature of the boat. The class consists of the Rhodes 19’s originally designed by Phillip Rhodes and in molds approved by the association. It�s governed by a slate of officers elected each year at its annual meeting, which is typically held during the national championship regatta. Any owner or charterer of a boat may apply for membership, and is encouraged to join through a local fleet.

Rigging & Tuning FAQs

Is a straight mast faster? There use to be just one mast configuration; a tapered mast with jumper struts. Class rules now allow for three; 1) the original tapered mast with jumpers, 2) the newer (stiffer) straight or untapered mast with no jumpers similar to those sold as original equipment on new Stuart’s, and 3) the tapered mast with the original jumpers removed. Class rules were modified recently to allow for the removal of jumpers, presumably to reduce the variances between the two with respect to windage and weight aloft. The only caveat is that, if a boat breaks a tapered mast while the jumpers are removed, class rules encourage replacing it with a straight mast, and not another tapered mast. To date, no boat that we know of has broken a jumper-less tapered mast.

Does removing the jumpers really help? It depends on who you ask. Removing the jumpers removes weight and windage aloft, which has tangible benefits. However, removing them also reduces structural support and rigidity in the top 1/3 of the mast, which in turn alters the bending & stress characteristics. Those who advocate removing the jumpers argue that, because you rarely load the back stay in light to moderate conditions (normal for summer in Marblehead), removing the jumpers optimizes the mast for most conditions. Those who favor retaining the jumpers argue that no one has yet demonstrated an advantage significant enough as to warrant weakening the mast.

Do I need an adjustable backstay? Yes. Although the class raced without them for years, class rules now permit them, and as they provide an advantage in moderate to heavy air conditions, there�s no reason not to install one.

Do I need a midboom traveler? Depends on who you talk too. Until recently almost every competitive boat sailed with a midboom traveler. In the last two years, more and more boats are sailing with a stern traveler, and finishing just as well as those with midboom travelers.

Is dry sailing faster? It depends on who�s sailing it.

How often will I need to buy new sails? Class rules allow a maximum of one complete new set per calendar year (main, jib and spinnaker). Seemingly, however, few boats buy sails that often. Well-maintained sails can hold their shape for at least two seasons, and it�s not uncommon to see boats in the top five with sails older than two years, especially spinnakers.

The Doyle Sailmakers R19 Tuning Guide suggests, “when in doubt, let it out.” Is that good advice? Most of the time, it is. The R19 is under-powered by design, and responds well to powering-up the sail plan. Typically that means pressing the bow down and easing a few things. Bottoms, Keels & Rudders

Is there an optimum keel shape? Class rules leave little flexibility about the profile shape of the keel , although the foil shape is restricted only in terms of a maximum width. This leaves Rhodes sailors in two camps. One holds that the width of the leading 1/3 should be fattened to the maximum allowed and tapered aft from there, optimizing the lifting shape of the foil. The other camp holds that the hull shape isn�t fast enough to take advantage of such an optimized foil, and that adding width to the keel only adds frictional drag. This camp holds that thinner is better. For what it�s worth, recent national championship boats have had thinner keels.

I�ve heard that O�Day models have a void in the bottom aft of the keel. What�s the story with that? Rumor has it the O�Day builders, anxious to lay up the next boat, would pop boats out of the mold before the fiberglass cured, and then stand them against the wall on their transoms, resulting in the void. While a fair bottom is always faster than an unfair or bumpy bottom, Rhodes sailors acknowledge that, when you consider the extra weight of the material used to fill the void, it can be a wash.

What should I do if the ribs in my O�Day are soft or loose? The O�Days models were built quite a few years ago, and it�s not uncommon for them to require new ribs. The down side of soft or loose ribs is a loss of rigidity, both in the hull and in the keel flange (the keel is bolted through the ribs), which can be slow and unseaworthy. Fortunately, a rib job is not too big a deal, and often is recommended in conjunction with a keel job. If you like working on boats, Stuart Marine sells a replacement rib package. If you don�t, some local options include Manchester Marine, Waterline Systems, Inc., and Stuart Marine.

What�s the best bottom finish, and what should be done to optimize it? Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the class rules allow a measure of flexibility. Ask 30 people and you�ll get 30 answers, all different and equally legitimate. The short answer is to make it smooth. The longer answer is that it depends on the current condition of the bottom, what�s already on it, whether you plan to dry sail or wet sail, and so on. Waterline Systems, Inc. of Bristol, RI (401-254-0690), a company which optimizes Rhodes 19s, advocates stripping down to gelcoat. Then if you plan to dry sail, put on VC Underwater Epoxy, a gelcoat like finish made by Interlux. If wet sailing, put on Interprotect 2000E barrier coat, and then VC Offshore vinyl copper-based paint, both Interlux products.

What�s the “Lindsay” rudder? Before turning to big boats, boat builder Mark Lindsay built small boats, and performance foils for small boats, including a Rhodes 19 rudder. The rudders are considered to be very good, in terms of strength, durability and particularly performance. Lindsay rudders are no longer manufactured, however there are manufacturers of high quality rudders around. Owning one of the rudders, however, is not a prerequisite for winning, as plenty of boats win without them.